Month: September 2013

Glorious Bread




Baking Bread can be so satisfying but sometimes so scary! Often we don’t have the time or the flour and think proving dough can take too long.

There are some great mixes available that can make bread making easier and quite satisfying. Usually the reason they work so well is the flours have a higher protein content and is what makes that bread chewy – the satisfying bite that is what we experience when we bite in – not like that soft texture of cake.

One supplier from South Australia is Lauke who manafacturer a very nice variety  of breads. These can be easily purchased on the supermarket shelves. It is a local mill that was established by German immigrants and I believe is still family owned today.

We can make bread easily by following these tips.

1. Follow the manufacturers instructions 

2. Allow to prove bread in a greased bowl – and cover with plastic wrap or tea towel .

3. Ideal temperature for proving bread is about 28c and a moist environment is good

4. When you do not have enough time to prove during the day – I suggest proving in a refrigerator over night – just makes sure it is at room temperature at least one hour for baking.

5. Kneading is an important function with this style of bread – try using a food mixer like kitchen aid or the knead function on a thermomix.

6. Try adding nuts and herbs for extra flavour

You can make loaves or rolls 


Here is a good recipe for bread with dates and walnuts






Banh mi


Last Week I was doing some shopping in Little Saigon – I picked up all sorts of fresh herbs and greens for dinner, I love their prices and the freshness.

I dashed into my favourite bakery Nhu Lan in hopkins street to pick up a Bahn mi – a very delicious freshly baked white bread roll usually filled with barbecued pork, spring onion, grated carrot, coriander, fresh red chill, and some caramelised onion.

There are many variations to this Vietnamese special including pate, chicken, tofu and fresh herbs.

Here is a link for a recipe for Banh mi

What makes a great roll at lunch time??

1. Soft white baguette – not too crunchy but not too heavy as a sour dough bread. The french influence in Vietnam resulted in amazing bread and pastries – feather light

2. Perfectly marinated pork – good cuts and great flavour

3. Fresh herbs – spring onion and coriander

4. Small amount of chill – enough for heat but not too overpowering.

5. Enough salad – pickled carrot or daikon.

Banofee Pie


Last night we caught up with friends Melissa and Steve and enjoyed a lovely butterflied Lamb done on the barbecue. We met their new friends a couple out from Ireland, called David and Laura. We all brought a dish to compliment the lamb, but the hero of the meal was a Banoffee Pie – a classic English dish that features banana and cream. It was the perfect accompaniment for a protein rich meal . Although I am not a big fan of eating Banana’s I did love this dish.Give it a try.

Here is a good recipe for Banoffee Pie

The version I enjoyed was made using digestive biscuits crushed and I think this works quite well as long as you don’t make the base too thick !!

My tips for making this pie are

1. Ensure the biscuit crumb is patted in evenly and is not too thick – better to treat like you are lining the dish as if it were a piece of pastry.

2. Taste the caramel – you dont want it too be excessively sweet – this will overpower the total flavour.

3. Look for Banana’s that are ripe but not too ripe nor brown. Lady fingers are ideal for this.

4. A combination of cream, caramel and bananas – can’t go wrong !!


Grain Salad


One of my favourite accompaniments to eat with barbequed meat is a quinoa salad. It is light but healthy and makes a fabulous change from that potato salad that often makes an appearance. Quinoa along with couscous are great carriers of flavour. Why then do we sometimes see them gluggy, overcooked and lacking flavour?

I love to mix the three colours of quinoa – white, black and brown . This gives great colour and a good visual, after all remember we eat with our eyes first !

My tips for a great grain salad are

1. Cook with stock – chicken or vegetable – this will immediately add flavour.

2. Careful to follow the packet instructions – add the right amount of liquid and don’t over cook it.

3. Try adding cooked onion, toasted nuts chopped, fresh herbs finely chopped – I like to mix coriander and parsley.

4. Try other ingredients such as tomato, avocado, cooked mushroom etc – but keep in mind the sizing – don’t make these other food items too large in size.

5. Finish off with a nice simple dressing and even a small amount of soft feta cheese.

Here is a link to great recipe,-chickpea-and-quinoa-salad/


Spring has Sprung !

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It has been glorious weather in Melbourne and as the season changes from winter to Spring we start yearning for lighter foods such as salad. I had a special guest at work, the very gentleman who owns the company. A quick working lunch was required, but I was fully aware that this lunch would be consumed  after a hotel breakfast, morning tea, afternoon tea ,and then a very rich 10 course evening meal !!! Not sure how he stays so fit looking!!!

I made two salads, one with beef and another with prawns and noodles. The noodle salad had the perfect balance of carbohydrate (noodles) ,prawns, salad ingredients and herbs. It was finished of with a light but simple dressing. Just delicious and fortunately well received.

I think the key steps to getting this salad right are

1. Using the right noodles – vermicelli are best

2. Fresh herbs are essential to great asian style salads. A mixture of equal amounts does the trick – 1/4 cup of mint, coriander,and Thai basil.

3. I like to make sure I add the cooked protein element – in this case the prawns, to the dressing first – this allows some of the still warm prawns to absorb that delicious dressing.

4. Don’t drown the salad in dressing – add enough to coat the food.

5. The chill is also important – better to add a little than none.

Here is a simple but delicious prawn and rice noodle salad


Happy Spring